“It’s impossible to wear out your gifts, because the more you use them the stronger they become.” – Dr. Dale Henry
Many of us are keenly aware of our weaknesses but struggle to identify our gifts or strengths. Furthermore, when prompted to think of something we want to improve about ourselves, many of us will more likely think of a weakness, not a strength.
Research shows that people who recognize and regularly use their strengths are more successful at work. As we increase our focus on developing our strengths rather than exclusively improving our weaknesses, we are happier and more fulfilled.
Not knowing real strengths often holds people back from reaching their full potential. As we identify each of our strengths and focus on them, we are more productive, perform better, are naturally more engaged. Greater joy in work and life can result.
One challenge is that as individuals, we don’t always objectively know what our strengths are. Even if you ask other people to describe your strengths, their answers may not be an unbiased view. Take the case of someone in an organization known as a go-getter, a hell-on-wheels type of person when it comes to getting stuff done, but who also burns through people.
How may this person’s performance be treated during a performance appraisal discussion? Here are two distinct scenarios.
- The person doing the review is also a super results-driven individual that loves the fact that this person gets great results. They may somewhat gloss over the fact that they have the highest turnover in the company – Your results are spectacular, and you are at the top of the company when it comes to getting results. And, oh yeah, you probably need to be a little more sensitive and careful when dealing with your people. That said, keep up the great work.
- The person conducting the review is empathetic. They might convey a message like this – While your results are great, it is unacceptable to have this level of turnover in our people. You need to turn this situation around, or you will be gone.
As you can see, these behaviors and outcomes, when viewed from two reviewers’ perspectives, yield very different career advice. Does this help explain why getting objective input is so challenging?
Getting clarity on individual strengths helps organizations put the right people into the best positions to set themselves and the organization up for success. When tying strengths and competencies into preferred behaviors (as measured by a DISC profile, for example), it becomes clear what job environments are best suited for each individual and which will require a high level of modification to achieve a fit.
When endorsed by leaders, a strengths-based focus delivers better outcomes for individuals, teams, and organizations.